CONCORD (KPIX) — Most, if not all, Bay Area counties have banned organized sports at their parks and recreation facilities but some youth leagues and amateur adult teams have been defying the restrictions and playing in full-blown tournaments.
Concord police broke up an adult softball tournament at the Willow Pass Community Park Saturday morning. It’s not a problem isolated to Concord, indeed it’s happening all over the region. Teams apparently travel far afield to other cities to hold large, organized sporting events.
“(They had) full uniforms with fans,” said Eric Tate, who saw the Saturday morning tournament in Concord.
A city spokeswoman told KPIX it began just after 8 a.m. The city had reached out to the organizers earlier this week to try to stop it. Contra Costa County leaders said it’s been an ongoing problem for the past couple of months.
“Four teams in uniforms, you know and they were setting out bases and getting all set up,” Tate said. “There was one on this field here and one on the other field there … I thought ‘oh, they’re out again today’ ’cause they’ve been here the last couple of weekends.”
On top of sending the police, the city made sure they didn’t come back.
“It seems like they turned the sprinklers on as a way to not be confrontational,” Tate said.
In fact, the city kept the sprinklers at the ballfield running all day.
Neighboring Danville encountered a similar problem on recent weekends and had to send officers to tell the coaches that organized team sports were not allowed in the county.
“We’ve had some experiences where we had youth baseball teams that have been coming and playing the games, complete with full complement of parents, coaches, and umpires. You wouldn’t know that there was a pandemic. We were able to contact the coaches and tell the coaches that if they persisted in doing that, it would be necessary to cite the coaches, cite the umpires,” said Danville town manager Joe Calabrigo.
KPIX found several Pleasanton-based teams practicing at a Walnut Creek ballfield on Saturday. In Pittsburg, park maintenance crews placed large barriers on the fields to prevent teams from using them. It seems that teams from as far away as Elk Grove recently held a tournament there. In Vacaville, the school district went one step farther and used tractors to tear the turf off the fields.
A doctor at LifeLong Medical Center said he’s fed up with people defying the health order. Contra Costa County health officials say their county is seeing record COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. As of Friday, they said Contra Costa had recorded 119 coronavirus-related deaths.
“We’ve noticed that younger people are dying from this Covid. I bulls** you not,” Dr. Desmond Carson said. “It’s time to become serious about this Covid,”
So why are teams traveling to other cities to play tournaments? The theory is that they don’t want to get in trouble on their home turf since other cities can’t really disband their leagues.